The family of a masked gunman who died after being pinned down by customers during a botched bookmakers raid today apologised for his crimes.
Career criminal Alan Levers, 50, stormed into a Ladbrokes wearing a gas mask and wielding a replica pistol but was wrestled to the floor.
Father-of-four Levers, of Plymouth, Devon, was disarmed and held down by two have-a-go heroes until police arrived – and died later in hospital.
Violent Levers had only recently been released from prison for a similar hold-up in which he robbed a convenience store with a fake pistol and snatched £600.
His family today issued an apology – but added they wanted more answers over the death.
They also claim a shadow on Levers’ lung may have hampered his breathing while he wore the military-style mask and contributed to his death.
Nephew Stephen Levers, 33, of Plymouth, said: “There is a lot of upset – what he did has upset people and we are sorry for that.
“Believe me, as a family we are truly sorry. But we also lost our uncle, which is tragic. For the last two years he really tried and that’s the shock of it, because he really did try.
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this and we can’t understand why because he’s been doing so well.”
Following the robbery and his death Levers was revealed as a drink and drugs addict who had a long history of violent crimes.
But nephew Stephen said his uncle had begun to turn his life around after serving time for a December 2009 robbery.
He said: “I can’t make him out to be a bad person because he wasn’t. In the last two years he’s changed – he’s been brilliant.
“He’s just been like normal, back to himself. Him and his partner Julie were getting on really well. They were settled and happy. Julie is absolutely devastated.”
He added: “Regardless of what he’s done and whether it was wrong or right, he’s still been taken away from us.
“It’s sad, it’s tragic and he’s going to be missed. We don’t hold anybody responsible.”
Peter Levers, 28, another nephew, added his uncle had recently been given the all clear following a cancer scare.
He said: ”He had a shadow on his lung. He’s been quite ill recently. They thought it might have been cancer.
“That could have affected his breathing. Right now we want answers.”
Three customers are thought to have been inside the Ladbrokes bookmakers during Friday night’s bungled robbery.
Levers was found to be non-responsive when officers who were called to the shop were in the process of arresting him.
They attempted CPR and an ambulance raced to the scene but he was later pronounced dead.
Detectives are studying CCTV to find out how Levers was brought down but police chiefs say they are unlikely to arrest or charge the people who tackled him.